Katie prepares to start from second Katie Milner’s Junior saloon car championship campaign headed to Brands Hatch over the previous weekend.

After winning again at the previous Donington park meeting, her aim this time was to take two podium finishes to hopefully extend her championship lead still further.

Katie was unable to take part in the usual Friday test session this time due to having to take an exam on that day but fortunately there was an available test day on Tuesday that she could use instead. As usual, her driver coach Adriano Medeiros was on hand to give Katie guidance on the track. This was the circuit where she had her first (and hopefully only) roll last season when the car dug into the Paddock Hill gravel.

Katie wasn’t at all put off by this though and was soon flying round the circuit quicker than ever. There was an extra bonus that day in the form of a passenger ride in a Clio Cup car, something Katie is aiming to drive herself one day.

So after travelling back up for the exam, Katie was back at Brands Hatch on Saturday for the qualifying session after a four hour drive back down. With no practice sessions on the race weekend itself, Katie went straight into qualifying. It was initially dry but there were dark clouds approaching quickly so Katie knew it was important to set a quick lap straight away. She managed to set the second fastest time with the seven best time for her second best lap. Katie knew she could go faster still and was aiming for two poles but before she could do any further hot laps down, came the rain leaving the track much wetter (and slower!).

Second place for race one was still a good starting position and she had proved at Donington how good she is at battling past people so she knew a great result was still possible in race two despite starting seventh. She wasn’t the only driver to end up further back than expected for race two with her championship rivals all mixed up down the grid.

Ivor Bourne was a visitor to Katie and the team this weekend. He has previously worked at the Mercedes Formula one team and now runs an athlete management and mentoring company called Integra. Katie and the Merlin team are looking forward to working with him in the future.

So on to race day on Sunday and Katie lined up on the front row. She watched the lights and as therace started, she got one of her best ever starts to shoot into the lead. By the time she turned into paddock hill bend her lead was already three car lengths After the repeated red flags of Donington, this time Katie hoped she could have an uninterrupted race. Zanetti, one of her main rivals was behind and fortunately this time the field ran trouble free enabling Katie to control the gap to second which she gradually extended throughout the race to cross the line and win with a lead close to three seconds. This was the best possible result and she extended her lead in the championship still further. But the difficult race would be in the afternoon where she would need to fight her way through the leading pack from seventh. She felt confident though and couldn’t wait to get started.

On the top step of the podium - Photo by Ivan Bourne On the top step of the podium - Photo by Ivan Bourne

 

 

 

The field waited for the lights and then the race was on! She got a good start but the front runners are a tough bunch to get past and she had a couple of knocks into paddock hill bend she tried to find a way through. But heading into Druids, she was very confident in her car and was able to brake incredibly late to shoot up the inside of several rivals. She crossed the line in second place almost touching the rear bumper of the leader, Luke Browning. He drove a very defensive race and despite trying every trick she knew, Katie was unable to find a way past. She stayed stuck to his tail, trying to pressure him into a mistake but Browning wasn’t in a mood to be put off as he headed for his first win with Katie just 0.141 seconds off. Despite not winning this time, Katie was still pleased as second meant more important points for the championship and she had achieved her aim of two podium finishes. With her nearest championship rivals finishing behind her, Katie extended her lead still further.

Katie next heads to her home circuit of Croft which was one of her strongest events during her learning year so she is hoping for another positive result. It’s also the site of the end of her and the Merlin teams fundraising event to raise £1000 for the Teenage cancer trust. The fund raising target was reached (and exceeded!) at the Brands weekend and two lucky tickets were drawn who win a fast ride at Croft with Katie’s dad Jonnny in his British Rally championship winning Toyota Corolla WRC.

Katie was pleased with how the Brands Hatch weekend had gone;

“This was an amazing result for my guest Ivor Bourne to see and we as a team are really looking forward to working with him in the future. Race two was a lot harder but I was confident I could make up the places and reach a podium position, after a few knocks off track and 'last of the late breakers' into Druids, I slowly got through the pack to second where over the line I was pushing bumper to bumper with Luke Browning! I also took fastest lap and both races were luckily dry despite lots of rain during the weekend. I’d like to thank my sponsors; Nimbus Motorsport, Autocool radiators, Merlin international, Myprotein and Richardson transport. My plans for next year are coming together with them and also some new companies!”By Marc Waller



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